In the age of digital streaming, one of the most important decisions that an artist will make is choosing a music distribution service that can best promote their work. Gone are the times of everyone solely using vinyl records and cassette tapes: now, record labels and artists made the colossal change to use the intermediaries of digital music distribution services to push their music to audiences in every corner of the world.
Understanding Music Distribution Services
First things first: What is the purpose of a music distribution service? You can picture them as the middleman between you, the artist, and the major listening platforms in the world known as the Digital Service Providers (DSPs). These companies take care of the procedural and administrative work that needs to be done for your music; this extends to listening to your songs, selecting the genre that it will get the most exposure on, and negotiating with listening platforms. These online music streaming companies only take music releases that come to them through distribution services. Therefore, they are necessary to bridge the gap between an artist’s work and the audience. The question arises as to how some of the most popular distribution services function and this information will ultimately help you as an artist decide which service is best suited for you. When selecting, artists should be cognizant of fee structures, stored services, added services, and lastly, the reputation and experience of the platform. Once your song is upload via a distributor you will be ready to apply for a PlaylistStream campaign to build your fanbase. Let’s take a look at some of the nuances of the leading services that I recommend to help you make your decision.
Ditto Music: The All Rounder
Launched in 2005, Ditto Music is a distribution service that is open to all and has over 200 outlets. Upon registering with Ditto, the service helps promote your music to online platforms like Apple Music, YouTube, Spotify, VEVO, and many more. It not only pushes your music to stores around the world, but gives you the liberty to limit which regions you want to focus on spreading your music too. The service markets its clients both online/offline, and also through the PR deals it signs to further expand the audience base of artists. Additionally, Ditto Music covers your Airplay-Royalty Registration, which ensures that you receive the appropriate royalties for when your music is played on the radio. The distribution service also takes care of its artists’ copyrights and uses their digital fingerprinting to prevent potential copyright infringements. Yet another positive of Ditto Music is that it gives the artist complete autonomy in regards to the royalties and earnings. They do not charge any hidden costs and execute secure financial transactions. The distribution fee for an unlimited amount of songs is $19 and there is also a $19 annual fee per artist. Ditto does not take any portion of an artist’s earnings or royalties and provides transparency with the records of both of these components as well.
Some of the shortcomings of Ditto are that although it covers the digital distribution of your music, it does not perform physical distribution as well. Ditto also only does music promotion if its artists have purchased the specific packages for that service; a general registration alone does not provide its clients with the full breadth of their promotion services. Furthermore, although artists have the independence to alter their track order before uploading their music, this ability is gone after the release has been officially processed. Ditto is reported to have a poor user interface online and its customer service also needs improvement. Lastly, Ditto also only covers an artist’s original video content and will not help distribute videos that it may see as obstacles for new artists it may sign with.
Taking all of this into consideration, I recommend Ditto as a great music distribution service for both up and coming artists as well as experienced ones. Its diligence in taking care of all the work that needs to be done before the release of the song all the way until the actual release and beyond truly eases the journey for the artists. It helps project your music across the world while also maintaining transparency about your earnings and royalties. Though it has its fair share of weaknesses and limitations, I believe that Ditto should still be a top choice, especially for artists still getting a grasp of the music business.
EmuBands: For the Independent Artist
Based out of the UK, EmuBands is yet another premier music distribution service that is tailored for independent artists. The versatile EmuBands team consists of seasoned professionals from all fields of the music business. The company has worked with thousands of clients since its 2005 origins and thus their experience is not something you should worry about at all. Unlike Ditto Music, EmuBands has a stellar reputation with customer service and even goes as far as naming an Account Manager for every one of their artists so that they can receive all the guidance and help they need. Additionally, EmuBands takes transparency with its artists one step further by providing them with direct access to their respective sales data and market trends: all from their personal user account. Artists can download this data and examine it offline with tremendous ease. EmuBands also provides the free service of automatically registering your music on Shazam to ensure that anyone who is unfamiliar with your music can discover your work right away. They also give more power to the artists by giving them the ability to pick when they want their music to be pre-ordered or released. This is a functionality that many music distribution services fail to offer and separates EmuBands from its competitors. Lastly, the service also provides a royalty payout system with a great user interface as an artist can continually receive updates on their payments and other information. EmuBands lets you obtain your payments as quickly as you want while also eliminating minimum payment thresholds.
EmuBands has room for improvement; for instance, it currently has no admin publishing services. Furthermore, it also is quite expensive with its release fees which start at $42. Along with this price, there is no payment splitting functionality or YouTube content ID, both of which many other distribution services offer. Despite these few cons, I still believe EmuBands is a leading choice because of both all the benefits listed as well as its commitment to address its issues. EmuBands has shown a commitment to continual progress and it will not be long before these issues are also resolved. The higher price is well worth it because of the sheer amount of independence it gives the artists as well as services it provides at no additional fee. For a single plan of $42.50 with 1-2 tracks, you can get a lifetime of unparalleled support and services while also keeping 100% of your royalties. EmuBands is truly willing to go above and beyond to push their artists’ music to audiences.
Landr: Unparalleled Collaboration and Mastery Services
Lastly, Landr is another distribution service that I highly encourage to consider in your search. With just an annual fee, artists are able to upload an unlimited number of songs throughout the year. A unique feature of this service is that artists can make their work accessible to other artists, friends, and even producers to get the opportunity for feedback. With this feature, artists can get a sense of the critical reception of their music before releasing it and even improve their music with other musically savvy professionals. To the other end of this collaboration feature, artists can also access to free music samples from other producers to create their own versions of them with a unique spin. This type of free and legal transparency between samples is something quite amazing about Landr as several other services are still attempting to figure out how to do the same thing. The user interface is engaging and facile to use because they have a free app that artists can download on their laptops. Landr also established Landr Academy; a portion of their services dedicated to providing their clients with tips on how to maximize their promotion and collaboration potentials. Finally, Landr also helps register you with other services and even gives you the ability to link your account with your SoundCloud account at no further costs.
Like all music distribution services, Landr also has areas in which it can use a bit more work. It also does not provide a publishing administration and can be a platform that requires some time to get used to handling. The pricing can be confusing as well because it is difficult to see what the differences are between the packages and if some are truly worth the greater price than the others. The three primary plans are the basic plan ($48 yearly), advanced plan ($108 yearly), and pro plan ($299 yearly). There is always a push for its clients to spend more money to also pay for the mastering services which the advanced and pro plans provide. Finally, if an artist was to cancel their subscription then all of their releases would be frozen. Despite these cons, Landr is both a reputable and amazing music distribution serivce. Landr is a platform that takes no commission from you, lets you maintain all your earnings, and also provides complementary educational content and AI mastering tools for its artists to sound like true professionals. This type of genuine care for the quality of their clients work is hard to find in the music distribution service industry.
Whether you pick one of these three services or any of the countless others, remember that this is ultimately your decision. As an artist, you should be asking yourself: which service makes me feel most comfortable and also has my best interests at heart? The answer to these questions will vary for each artist, but just remember how much easier music distribution services can make your journey in delivering your music from your room to the ears of people around the world. Keeping all these factors in mind, will make the decision of selecting a service all the simpler.
Once you’ve picked your distributor and you have your music listed in the DSPs, you can then promote your music via PlaylistStreams to maximize your listeners, build your fan base and get your career rolling!